Joni and I have been sheltering at home since last Saturday. But this is no longer a choice – it’s the law. Colorado’s Governor signed an executive order effective at 6AM this morning; saying that the majority of Colorado’s 5.8 million residents must stay home. This order was made to contain the spread of the corona virus and the tendency of people to ignore less direct warnings. I guess “we” still need a parent.
Unprecedented events continue to unfold as we identify and adapt to our invisible enemy. The fact that our only defense is distancing is causing a host of related changes, the likes of which are scaring people even more than the virus itself. It is pulling us together as it creates tension between us. I hope that we can pass this test and emerge with greater understanding of our personal and collective power.
Last night I spoke to a friend in government who is on the front line of the response to corona virus. She attends regular community briefings to understand virus and the cascade of social and material consequences that it and our quarantine bring. These community leaders are organizing a safe response for our children who are isolated away from school They are planning to provide support, particularly food and supplies for children staying at home from school. They are grappling with the logistics of getting supplies from here to there. They have to move and deliver these supplies without inadvertently spreading the virus. First, they must secure materials from stocks and/or suppliers. Once they have identified the children in need (an ongoing process) they connect the children with the support. Of course they must keep track of all this movement; the product (like food or computers), the volunteers who transport it and the recipient. This is a multi agency/business/school endeavor.
As amazing as this sounds, it is only one of the initiatives and groups in motion around this crisis. This effort may not seem as heroic as the work of our beloved health care professionals, but it is critical to prepare in these early days. We are but one small, rural, community. There are many counties and towns involved in this particular coordination but we are just a small microcosm of work being done at the level of the State, Nation and World. Connecting the needs of individuals, families and business with materials and support is what is necessary at all levels.
As an example of what is happening (or not happening) in communities around the world, this local effort reveals just how interdependent we are – how much we rely on each other, our businesses and government, our formal and informal organizations. Socialism, capitalism? call it what you want but we have to act with a single minded, social purpose, to provide for the basic needs of our community.
I am sitting at home, following the direction of my state governor who is acting on the advice of experts in the field of epidemiology. I trust that they take this responsibility seriously and should be trusted. I don’t trust them blindly of course but based on what I’ve read, they are taking a cautious and educated approach to the crisis.
This is a perfect time to reflect on the utility of government to direct the public for their own good. Would some call this socialism? Perhaps. Our taxes are invested to keep healthy bureaucracy in place – to prepare us for unforeseen events and to act in a coordinated fashion when necessary.
My personal action is not so much a sacrifice as it is a logical conclusion of the facts (yes facts) at hand. This action doesn’t really require that much of me except to listen and behave accordingly. Is that so hard? But staying home is relatively smaller sacrifice for me; a retired 64 year old with a pension. Staying home is a much larger sacrifice for many others. It entails a loss of income and for some it will lead to job loss and business loss and all the hardships that follow. I am fortunate to be in a stage of life where I am relatively insulated from this sacrifice.
Despite my particular niche, I know that I am connected to each and every person and that their sacrifice and their fate, is my fate. As this cascade of social effects continues, I will feel the effects of unemployment, business and investment loss. These and many other effects will become OUR new reality, our new legacy. They will require more sacrifice on everyone’s part. We will have to rebuild our economy in the same way we would reconstruct a community in any other disaster. Given that this disaster has affected all of us, without exception, the scale of the recovery will be on a scale we (Post WWII children) have never known.
It is time to prepare for collective sacrifice and action. My hope is that we will be considerate of all in this crisis, no matter their age, race, gender, or socio-economic status.